Genesis 1:20-25 (NIV) 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning–the fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
On verses 20-25: One of the recurring phrases in Genesis 1 is, “And God saw that it was good.” (v21, 25. See also v4, 10, 12 and 18) In other words, God took pleasure in His creative work.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV) 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
On verses 26-27: Here we reach the climax of God’s creative work as He makes mankind. There are a number of things to note here:
1. Notice that God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”. Why the plural “us” and “our”? While various interpretations have been suggested over the centuries, I believe the best explanation for the plural “us” and “our” is because this is a reference to the Trinity, the idea that there is one God who exists concurrently as three Persons, being God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. In Genesis 1, God the Spirit is mentioned in verse 2 and appears to be distinct from God the Father. John 1 also explains that “In the beginning was the Word [referring to Jesus the Son of God], and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1-2). Thus all three Persons of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – were present and involved in creation, and in particular the creation of humankind.
2. What does it mean to be made in God’s image and likeness? I would submit that to be made in the image of God means at least three things.
First, to be made in God’s image means that God has given human beings a spirit by which to relate to Him, something which He gave human beings uniquely and not to any other living creature (see Genesis 2:7).
Second, to be made in God’s image means that God has given human beings influence and authority so that human beings can represent Him and rule over the rest of creation which He has made (v26, 28-30).
Third, to be made in God’s image means that God places great value on human beings, which value God would later prove when He would send His own Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross just so that we could be forgiven and brought back to God. Thus we can say with David in Psalm 139, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. You are God’s masterpiece, made in the image of God.
Genesis 1:28-31 (NIV) 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.
On verses 28-31: Notice that God’s relationship with human beings began with a lot of blessing (v28a – “God blessed them”), trust and empowerment (v28b-30). God blessed and entrusted human beings with great power and responsibility. Before God created human beings, He had already provided so much for their enjoyment, provision and empowerment.
God, thank You for creating me in Your image, for giving me a spirit by which to relate to You, for entrusting me with power and authority to rule in Your name, and for considering me of great value, so much so that You would die on the cross for me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!